WASHINGTON (April 24, 1998) -- Msgr. Thomas A. McDade, the U.S. Bishops' Secretary for Education, applauded the Senate passage of the bi-partisan Coverdell-Torricelli "A+" Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) bill, April 23.
Msgr. McDade also urged President Clinton not to veto the bill.
"A veto would only reinforce an unfortunate image of an unwillingness to help parents in their role as primary educators of their children," he said.
Msgr. McDade highlighted the bill's significance.
"This is an historic vote because both Houses of Congress have now voiced their support of a concept that would empower all parents to get more actively involved in the education of their children, regardless of whether those children attend public, private, religious or home schools . 'A+' dollars would give parents added resources to care for the individual learning needs of their children which cannot be reached by general education funds," he said. "This bill encourages parents, their relatives and businesses to invest in the education of all of our nation's young people from kindergarten through college -- no one need be left out. Every family would be empowered with a modest measure of tax relief to help them shoulder the costs of elementary and secondary education, while in no way taking a single federal or state dollar away from our public schools."
The Coverdell-Torricelli "A+" ESAs would provide an expansion of the current college level benefits to include grades K through 12 and increase the amount that could be saved annually from $500 to $2,000. This bill offers significant assistance to parents with children in public, private, religious and home schools.
Msgr. McDade applauded Senators Paul Coverdell (R-GA) and Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) for their consistent support of this legislation.
"Senators Coverdell and Torricelli deserve our thanks for their steadfast support of this parent empowerment legislation," Msgr. McDade said. "They have been adamant in their efforts to bring this legislation to a final vote and they now have been successful. We are grateful for their efforts."
Msgr. McDade encouraged the Senate and House conferees to work to craft a final version of the bill that would retain all aspects of the "A+" ESA program and encouraged them to consider ways that might remove any parts of the legislation that might detract from the central focus of the "A+" ESAs and thus reduce the number of potential supporters in any final vote. He also called on President Clinton to reconsider his threat to veto the parent empowerment legislation.
"The President needs to see this legislation for what it truly is, a benefit to parents so they can assist all children to gain access to quality education, no matter where they go to school," Msgr. McDade said.